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Old 06-29-2006, 03:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Katrina Looters get 15 Years in Prison

http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/06/29/lo....ap/index.html

Quote:
Katrina looters get 15 years in prison

Thursday, June 29, 2006; Posted: 1:47 a.m. EDT (05:47 GMT)

KENNER, Louisiana (AP) -- Three people convicted of hauling away liquor, wine and beer from a grocery store after Hurricane Katrina were sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison.

The judge said he wanted to send a message that looting would not be tolerated when he gave the maximum sentence to Coralnelle Little, 36, Rhonda McGowen, 42, and Paul C. Pearson, 36, all of Kenner.

A jury convicted the trio May 2 on a portion of the state's looting law that took effect two weeks before the Aug. 29 storm. The amended law set a three-year minimum sentence, and a maximum of 15 years in prison, for looting during a declared state of emergency.

They were convicted of attempting to leave the grocery with 27 bottles of liquor and wine, six cases of beer and one case of wine coolers, six days after Katrina made landfall.

Little, McGowen and Pearson each testified that they were not looting, but they offered conflicting accounts of matters such as who drove to the store.

Pearson's attorney, Bruce Netterville, said the sentence and conviction would be appealed.

"We believe the sentence is excessive," said Netterville.

Attorneys for the other defendants agreed.
Extensive is an understatement... Fifteen years in prison for stealing liquor? Some felonies don't even warrant 15 years in prison. I highly doubt that any of the items they stole would have been sold off at a later date. Since the state of Lousiana is taking a no tolerance policy towards looters, I wonder if they're going to search out and find those persons who stole milk and bread from convenience stores and lock them up for 15 years as well.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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No problem with long sentences for looters. If they had been stealing bread or baby formula, I'd understand it, and let them off, but stealing booze? No different from boosting stereos or I-Pods. I'm OK with the sentence.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I hope they rot in jail. I have no sympathy for looters, and as highthief said (what an ironic name) if they had been taking supplies necessary for life such as bread, water or baby formula I'm sure they would have been let off.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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The punishment seems excessive, but I wonder what the rap sheet looks like for these individuals. If they have had prior convictions for theft or some other criminal behaviors, then I don't blame the judge for handing down such a punishment. If they have no other prior arrests, then perhaps a short sentence like 3 to 6 months in jail plus community service might be more appropriate. Still, I think some jail time is warranted. They were stealing for the sake of stealing while the authorities were busy, not for survival.
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Old 06-29-2006, 04:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Add my name to the list of those that have absolutely no problem with the extended stay at the Louisianna state pen.
You need supplies to survive? No problem. Take what you need. Alcohol, stereos and televisions? Nope. At that point, sufficient time needs to be given (15 years is good) for these upstanding models of citizenry to contemplate any further contributions to society ( by being removed from it) that they may be allowed to make in the future.
Along those same lines, while a pair of shoes, or two, may constitute a need...20 pairs do not. There is a line between taking what is necessary for survival, and profiting. If 20 pairs of soggy shoes can be considered profiting.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I suppose it's just me, but I don't see how stealing items which would have more-than-likely been disposed of warrants a 15-year prison sentence.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:24 AM   #7 (permalink)
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And holding it against folk who have lost _everything_? At least they'll have a home in prison, I suppose.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:31 AM   #8 (permalink)
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just because they can justify the stealing in their minds, doesn't make it right, and doesn't mean that they shouldn't be punished for it. They stole. They get punished.

As for other felonies having lesser sentences, well... that's for that sentence... this particular crime had a specific penalty... What's the old expression - Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time? (or at least if youare going to do the crime, be good enough at it that you arent going to get caught.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Infinite_Loser
I suppose it's just me, but I don't see how stealing items which would have more-than-likely been disposed of warrants a 15-year prison sentence.

You make an excellent point. Next time there is a big disaster looming I'm heading down that way with my U-haul and gonna load up with Plasma's, Computers and other high ticket stuff cause it's gonna all be destroyed anyhow.
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Old 06-29-2006, 05:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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They stole alcohol six days after the storm passed-- Not plasma TV's, not computers, not iPods and not any other technical device.

As I'm assuming that most of the people here didn't have to go through the Katrina disaster, it would be wrong of us to tell others what they should and shouldn't have done in the given circumstances. Whatever reasons they had for stealing liquor, they stole it. But 15 years because of it? Come on. That's ridiculous.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:08 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I hope the sentence was in line with what it would have been during a non-emergency. I somehow doubt that though.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:12 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toaster126
I hope the sentence was in line with what it would have been during a non-emergency. I somehow doubt that though.
traffic fines are doubled in a work area.. .why shouldn't punishment for crimes committed during a state of emergency be more than they would in a non-emergency? bad circumstances should not give peopel free reign to do whatever they want.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:21 AM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't think anyone denies that there shouldn't be some type of consequences, but 15-years in prison is ridiculous. At the max, they should have been fined a few hundred dollars and given community service.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toaster126
I hope the sentence was in line with what it would have been during a non-emergency. I somehow doubt that though.
Maybe this is unduly harsh, I dunno, but actually...I hope the exact opposite is true. I want a stiffer sentence for stealing non-essential items during an emergency. To me...it takes a special kind of person to sink that low.

Then again...after six days of wallowing in swamp muck...maybe I'd be one of 'em...who knows. Maybe I'd need a case of beer just to get through until tomorrow. I'd hope not.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:26 AM   #15 (permalink)
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well, then, next time there's a state of emergency, don't loot and it won't be a problem
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:27 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Seems a little harsh to me. People steal cars, grand theft for chist sake and get less jail time. If I were the judge handing down the sentance about six months is what I would give.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:28 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I'd do it.

I suppose that's why I think 15 years is unfair.

That said, I really have no place arguing with people who're ethically strong enough to not do it.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:43 AM   #18 (permalink)
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15 years does seem a bit harsh for what would otherwise be petty larceny. The fact that they did it during a state of emergency, however, speaks tons as to what kind of people they are.

Does the punishment fit the crime? Maybe. I'd rather have the judge leaning towards a heftier sentence than a lighter one.
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Old 06-29-2006, 06:46 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Lets say its not a store but your house they were doing this in?

Its easy to say its ok to steal other peoples stuff, but there is a reason why the traditional method of looting control is shooting the looter.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:01 AM   #20 (permalink)
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15 years is fine by me.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:06 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
Lets say its not a store but your house they were doing this in?

Its easy to say its ok to steal other peoples stuff, but there is a reason why the traditional method of looting control is shooting the looter.
Yes, but you need to examine the circumstances surrounding the looting. I stated this earlier, but it's easy for the people who weren't placed in the Katrina situation to say that they wouldn't loot. None of us can really say what we would and wouldn't do until that time arises.

With that being said, the crime doesn't fit the punishment. Yes, there should be some sort of penalty for stealing, but fifteen years is ridiculous.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:21 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I'd say 5 years on a chain gang repairing all the hurricane damage would be perfect. Compared to that sitting around being fed and sheltered while watching cable for 15 years seems like a slap on the wrist to me.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:28 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by frogza
I'd say 5 years on a chain gang repairing all the hurricane damage would be perfect. Compared to that sitting around being fed and sheltered while watching cable for 15 years seems like a slap on the wrist to me.

That would be an acceptable alternative to me.
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Old 06-29-2006, 07:42 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Infinite_Loser
Yes, but you need to examine the circumstances surrounding the looting. I stated this earlier, but it's easy for the people who weren't placed in the Katrina situation to say that they wouldn't loot. None of us can really say what we would and wouldn't do until that time arises.

With that being said, the crime doesn't fit the punishment. Yes, there should be some sort of penalty for stealing, but fifteen years is ridiculous.
If I were in a Katrina situation, I wouldn't be looting alcohol.

Now if all of civilization was ending I would be looting alcohol but only so I could trade it for pigs in barter town.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:10 AM   #25 (permalink)
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http://www.caledonianrecord.com/page...tory/288fc020c

Just for some perspective; a guy who broke into a tomb, decapitated a corpse to use as a BONG, stole a bowtie and eyeglasses... only got 1-7 years.

That's right.. he took the corpse's head so that he could bleach it and use it as a bong and he's getting half of the time of someone who stole booze from a store during an emergency..
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:16 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogza
I'd say 5 years on a chain gang repairing all the hurricane damage would be perfect. Compared to that sitting around being fed and sheltered while watching cable for 15 years seems like a slap on the wrist to me.
That sounds good to me. A lot of people need their homes and businesses rebuilt.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:26 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
Lets say its not a store but your house they were doing this in?

Its easy to say its ok to steal other peoples stuff, but there is a reason why the traditional method of looting control is shooting the looter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo

If I were in a Katrina situation, I wouldn't be looting alcohol.

Now if all of civilization was ending I would be looting alcohol but only so I could trade it for pigs in barter town.
Just to paraphrase your two posts - two men enter, one man leaves.

Thunderdome!

Back on topic, I actually agree with Ustwo. That happens about ever 4 months, so I guess I'm due. Looting is a symptom of societal breakdown, and one of the remedies is either opening fire or harsh punishment to restore order. I hope they have to serve their time at Angola.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:27 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by JinnKai
[url]...he took the corpse's head so that he could bleach it and use it as a bong and he's getting half of the time of someone who stole booze from a store during an emergency..
The problem, then, is not that the looter that stole the alcohol got to harsh of a sentence. The problem is that the grave robber got much to light of a sentence. In BOR world, anyway.

Oh...and just for the record...

A.) No...in a Katrina type of situation, I would most certainly not be stealing alcohol, stereos and television sets. I do know myself that much. I would, on the other hand, be stealing food, medicine, diapers, formula, necessary clothing...that type of thing. Oh, you betcha I would.

B.) I like the idea of serving a third of the sentence...at hard labor. I like that idea a lot, as a matter of fact. I see that as a win/win scenario.
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:45 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill O'Rights
A.) No...in a Katrina type of situation, I would most certainly not be stealing alcohol, stereos and television sets. I do know myself that much. I would, on the other hand, be stealing food, medicine, diapers, formula, necessary clothing...that type of thing. Oh, you betcha I would.
I really hope you would have had enough sense to get out of Dodge when you were told to and not decide to "ride it out..." because it won't be that bad...
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:52 AM   #30 (permalink)
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I really hope you would have had enough sense to get out of Dodge when you were told to and not decide to "ride it out..." because it won't be that bad...
Well most smart people did get out of dodge, but I think Bill is in 'what if mode' as in something happened suddenly, not 'what if I had a week of warning and I stayed put' mode
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Old 06-29-2006, 08:55 AM   #31 (permalink)
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I just think that Mal gives me too much credit.
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Old 06-29-2006, 09:06 AM   #32 (permalink)
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I don't know if it was true in this case or not, but one of my friend's cousins lived in New Orleans during the whole Katrina disaster. From what he said, often times stores were picked clean by the time that his friends got there to find food/water, and often times they would take alchohol to trade to others who had food and water.

Again, I'm not trying to imply that's what happened in this case, but it's possible.

***

Actually, giving it more thought - let's say that your house and everything you owned was destroyed. There isn't anything but miles of sewage water all around, and it's been a week since the disaster and you still haven't gotten any federal help. To be honest, I don't think getting absolutely smashed would seem like that bad of an option at that point....
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:18 AM   #33 (permalink)
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The problem, then, is not that the looter that stole the alcohol got to harsh of a sentence. The problem is that the grave robber got much to light of a sentence. In BOR world, anyway.
Fair enough..

Quote:
Actually, giving it more thought - let's say that your house and everything you owned was destroyed. There isn't anything but miles of sewage water all around, and it's been a week since the disaster and you still haven't gotten any federal help. To be honest, I don't think getting absolutely smashed would seem like that bad of an option at that point....
Precisely. That's why I said that I'd do it.
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Old 06-29-2006, 10:41 AM   #34 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NoSoup
Actually, giving it more thought - let's say that your house and everything you owned was destroyed. There isn't anything but miles of sewage water all around, and it's been a week since the disaster and you still haven't gotten any federal help. To be honest, I don't think getting absolutely smashed would seem like that bad of an option at that point....
I did alude to this situation earlier in the thread. And, perhaps, in that kind of despair, baser insticts would surface. Somewhere, though, in the back of your mind, know that civilization will return and you will be given a spanking. Or shot...whichever the case may be.
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Old 06-29-2006, 11:12 AM   #35 (permalink)
 
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15 years?
for stealing booze?
that's absurd, wholly out of whack with the actual crime these folk were convicted for.

sounds more like a show trial type situation to me: much more about affirming existing social hierarchies than about what these folk actually did.

insofar as the three people who were convicted function for folk who read about them as abstractions and not as human beings whose lives are going to be sacrificed for the greater good of private property, this does not seem to be a problem. i would imagine that views would be different if you knew--or even thought about---these people as human beings.

it seems to me that the misfortune suffered by these three folk, more than any other, is being among the first convicted under the new (and repressive) sentencing guidlines for emergency situations. i assume that these folk were not in a position to have good legal counsel, or maybe did not expect such a ridiculous sentence was possible--either way, a decent lawyer would have made sure this was not among the first cases to go through the system--let someone who actually committed a serious offense get the Symbolic Book of Bourgeois Property Relations thrown at them.

the claim that "stealing is stealing" seems ridiculous in this context.
i suspect that behind it is a reaction to the television footage of looting that took place in the wake of katrina--and behind that assumptions that the existing system of property relations is somehow legitimate and so those who transgress it should fry. i say this because "stealing is stealing" only makes sense on those grounds: stealing booze is not like stealing a car is not like stealing technology for nuclear weapons--stealing is not a single action--you only can arrive at that conclusion if you confuse the characteristics of stealing as a gerund with the range of actions that itcanbe made to refer to. and again, if folk who approve of this draconian sentence above knew these three people--or even thought about them as human beings--that argument would not be advanced. it has no correlate in actual law (sentences are different from different types of offense, folks--if you were caught stealing lipstick from a mall store, that act is not the same as if you were caught stealing a semi-automatic rifle. not legally. not empirically.)

what i find most amazing, however, is that folk above seem to have been more bothered by the private property being removed than by the social conditions that were revealed through katrina and the multiple debacles involved with it and its aftermath. you had a really ugly view of the reality of class stratification in america--and you worry about booze being stolen. you had a glimpse of the extent to which the american system grinds up the lives of the poor--and you identify with the owner of a liquor store?

i dont get it.
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Old 06-29-2006, 11:58 AM   #36 (permalink)
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what i find most amazing, however, is that folk above seem to have been more bothered by the private property being removed than by the social conditions that were revealed through katrina and the multiple debacles involved with it and its aftermath.
Huh? From where...did you infer that? Based on that, I can also infer, from your post, that you believe that because these people were poor, that they had a right to steal private property. I don't think so.

You mentioned several times about if we could only view these people as human beings. Oh...wait a minute...no, that was "folk" as human beings...that's more neighborly, and down home, isn't it? Well, in order for me to view someone as a human being, the first step, it would seem, is to not behave as a pack of animals.

Look...conditions post Katrina were horendous beyond our capacity to appreciate. Social structure breaks down. I understand that. To further complicate the situation...help was not readily forthcoming...regardless of who's at fault. Suffice to say that it sucked...a lot? Does this give one the green light to steal whatever is not nailed down? And in some cases, that which is?

You compared their crime to that of stealing a car. Y'know...I'd have rather they tried to steal a car. Steal a car and try to get out and remove your family from that devestation. That I could see more readily than stealing alcohol. Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong, I don't know....but I don't think that just because your life sucks, that you should be given a free pass to do as you please.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:13 PM   #37 (permalink)
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It was a message. How many thousands of looters will never get caught or tried because the conditions do not warrant a good trial?

I have no pity for people who loot for profit, no matter how bad off they are socially. If a homeless person breaks into my house and steals my stuff am I not allowed to be as angry than if it was a person with a home?

They didn't steal food, they didn't steal water, they didn't take necissary things. Getting drunk is not a requirement because you're poor.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:15 PM   #38 (permalink)
 
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bor: i took a shower after i wrote the above and while moistening myself i realized that someone could take what i wrote as you did: my lack of clarity is at fault--the basic argument i am making is that 15 years to wholly out of whack. it is surreal in its excess. i would not argue that no sentence was required once these folks were caught and tried--but that 15 years is ridiculous.

second: these actions seem to me the result of the class order that the americans have chosen to allow for themselves. i think they are readily understandable in those terms, even if you still argue that some sort of sanction was appropriate.

third: i derived my take on the posts that approved of such a draconian sentence simply from reading through them. same logic over and over: stealing is stealing, let em fry. i dont buy it.

fourth: civilization is not simply a matter of constraints imposed from the outside, is it? you internalize social norms, you perform them, they shape what you see and how you see it, what you do and how you justify that doign to yourself. what breaks down in a situation like katrina is the system of outward constraints, the arm of the states monopoly on "legitimate violence" that functions to enforce the system of property relations--which may or may not be the same thing as what you might call "civilized"---you would hope, for example, that a civilized order would respect the dignity of all its members----including those least advantaged, wouldnt you?
i dont see that in the american class system.
i dont know how anyone could.
but hey, that's just me.

the confusion probably came from blurring two types of claims--one about the sentences and another about the class order in the states. sorry about that.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:21 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I do not wish to defend these looters but there is something wrong with a system that will give a few months sentence in minimum security to someone who steals hundreds of thousands of dollars from our pension funds and give 15 years hard time to someone who steals a few hundred dollars worth of booze.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:26 PM   #40 (permalink)
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When i read the title of this thread i was like "who the fuck is Katrina Looters and why did she got 15 years", incredible what a capital letter can do. Back on topic, it seems to me that the setence didn't fit the crime, i think 2 years woulded be more than enough and harsh enough, and i like even more the idea about been forced to contribute with the reconstruction efforts, that would be a wise sentence and a usefull one.
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